Via Newsbusters, Nina Totenberg offers another data point for the “war on Christmas” with this odd, offhand remark about attending a Christmas party. What’s to forgive in that expression? Christmas gets celebrated as both a religious and secular holiday, and a “Christmas” party is about as offensive as eggnog. Totenberg seems more interested in apologizing to the PC crowd for even mentioning Christmas rather than using a more generic term, such as holiday celebration. But her larger point is more interesting than her boneheaded gaffe, if you’ll forgive that expression:
I want to say one thing about the budget that didn’t get passed, the omnibus bill. You know, we talk a lot about – we just passed this huge tax cut in part because business said, you know, we have to plan, we have to know what kind of tax cuts we have. Well, these agencies, including the Defense Department, don’t know how much money they’ve got and for what. And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice and people actually were really worried about this. These are law enforcement people don’t know exactly what kind of money they can spend for what.
Really? They don’t know what laws to enforce based on continuing resolutions? The CRs provide the ultimate in continuity; by locking in the previous year’s budget plan, they maintain the status quo. In government, it doesn’t get more consistent than a CR.
And for a reporter, Totenberg has trouble getting her facts straight. Congress didn’t pass a tax cut. They passed a bill that maintains the current tax rates in the same status they’ve been for seven years. In fact, taxes went up because of the renewed estate tax; it just didn’t go up as much as Democrats wanted. It’s only a tax cut if government feels that they were owed that tax increase and the money it would have taken out of the pockets of citizens above what they have already taken over the last decade.
The DoD and DoJ will get ample notice about the remainder of this year’s budgets when the next session of Congress sits down to develop the budget that Democrats deliberately avoided producing. That won’t likely include more money for more regulatory efforts at the DoJ, and will almost certainly mean less money for some of the regulatory efforts they’re already engaged in performing. For that, Totenberg and the DoJ can thank the outgoing Democratic majority that punted on the budget all year long despite having large majorities in the House and Senate and one of their own in the White House.
Update, 12/22/2010: Totenberg responds to this story at the Washington Post:
Nina adores this season. Years ago, when they taped the show in a studio with a piano, she and Carl Rowan would belt out carols every December. “I know she loves Christmas,” Peterson said. “I’ve seen her at Christmas parties — if you’ll pardon the expression.”
Then we reached Totenberg herself during her “Christmas vacation” (her term) in Jamaica. Turns out her critics got it completely wrong: She was, she says, defending Christmas. The DOJ celebration was officially dubbed a “holiday” party, and she was gently mocking that generic designation. “I think that’s kind of silly because it’s obviously a Christmas party,” she told us. “I was tweaking the Department of Justice. It was a touch of irony at the expense of the Justice department, not at the expense of Christmas.”
Great! Happy to include her response. Now can we address the issue of her reporting that Congress passed “a huge tax cut” by keeping rates at the same level they’ve been for the last seven years?
Oh, and merry Christmas, Nina. Enjoy your vacation.